Seasons, four for every year in New England; then I moved west into less distinct turns of time. This state is Golden…but still thirsty for something other than sunshine. Long-suffering, a term used to describe a region’s sports fans; it’s Northern Ohio whose fans have endured more. Reading and writing too much about one thing is not always healthy. I’ve put myself through another all-encompassing ride. Time feels more precious already, and we aren’t even in the waiting room yet. It will always slip, it’s just a question of how and why and taking a moment to preserve in memory, without space or time to constrain.
Imagine how insignificant a basketball game used to be. Naismith and baskets of peaches, the bottoms cut out. Not Apple baskets? Pear baskets? Peaches are thin-skinned and delicate, sweet and juicy. Apple baskets would not have made sense for this game. I dribbled basketballs and peach nectar one summer before high school. Devoted my sweat and my dreams to a sport for many years. You hear about the game providing sanctuary. I remember free-throws as meditation. Memories of muscle memory. Spin. Three bounces. Spin. Raise. Release. Follow-through.
Following-through wasn’t always easy. Stepping in to the new, no problem. Staying there and coming back was a challenge. Like higher-level math. When math was a game, first to finish racing to the 4th grade teacher’s desk, and stars on the wall, then I could play it well. Then it became a game of patience and logic. I could get by but never enjoyed the challenge.
The act of writing and the love of basketball are complementary. Improvisation is key. Players and writers: both recognize a “flow” state. State the word “flow” to the most logical, the numbers-based, and it may prove impossible to explain. You know it when you feel it, or have felt it, yourself. Stream-of-consciousness writing doesn’t always find that flow state, though it provides a structure to lose yourself in.
I love writing. I love stories. I love the stories contained within the beautiful game. Maybe I’ve exhausted this obsession. Seems appropriate that I won’t have time to keep this stream flowing uninterrupted next year, or the year after…or the year after.
What does it mean that I followed through on this stream/dream of hoops consciousness for these last few years? If I were a literal sort, I might list the pros and cons and then decide on what I’ve gained. Instead, I’ll recognize the attention I paid was never wasted. Paying attention to those urges is always valuable. Call it edifying. Call it soul nourishing. Call it dreaming. I have done it and will continue to do it in other ways.
Like those free-throws, thousands of late summer afternoons and early evenings in September and October, before the seasons ever started. Those pure moments of solitude, of swish and clang, of counting the makes and misses. Obsessions can be meditations. Writing and hoops are both.
I’ll leave my hand up, following through. And on to the next…